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Tips on Keeping Productive Friendships and Relationships

Much of our lives are spent interacting with family, friends and co-workers. All of these relationships are governed by codes of conduct, and the most important rule for a Muslim to follow in maintaining them is having ‘taqwa’ (being ever conscious of God).

If we try our best to acquire a higher state of taqwa in our hearts, we will analyze our every action to ensure that what we do is pleasing to Allah
 and that we maintain our relations with others in the best manner possible.

The Need for Good Company

Maintaining good company cannot be overstated as it plays a pivotal role in shaping who you are and influences you to choose either the straight path or a destructive one. It is important to reflect on the company that you keep both at work and in your leisure time.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

“And (remember) the Day when the wrong-doer will bite his hands and say: Woe to me! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger. Woe to me! If only I had not taken so- and-so as a friend! He has led me astray from this Reminder (the Qur’an) after it had come to me. And Satan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” [Qur’an: Chapter 25, Verses 27-29]

Effects of Destructive Company

A Muslim who befriends another who prays five times a day is more likely to follow suit and pray with him. Similarly, befriending those who have bad habits will cause one to adopt their habits due to their constant presence and influence.

In an authentic Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) said:

“Do not keep company with anyone but a believer and do not let anyone eat your food but one who is pious.” [Abu Dawood]
In another Hadith, Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) said:

“The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.” [Muslim]

In his commentary of this Hadith, Imam an-Nawawi said that the Prophet(pbuh) compared a good companion to a seller of musk and spoke of the virtue of having companions who are good, who have noble manners, piety, knowledge and good culture. Such are those who grant us from their virtue. And he(pbuh) forbade us to sit with those who do evil, commit a lot of sins and other bad deeds, as well as with innovators, backbiters, and so forth. Another scholar said: “Keeping good company with the pious results in attainment of beneficial knowledge, noble manners and righteous actions, whereas keeping company with the wicked prevents all of that.”

Tips to Maintain Good Company

Life in this world is short and soon we have to answer for our every action, including the company we keep. Ask yourself: is the company you are currently keeping diverting you from Islam or keeping you on the straight path?

Here are some ways in which you can maintain productive ties in your life:

Keeping the Hereafter in mind, we should prioritize befriending righteous and virtuous individuals who will help us stay on the straight path. Inevitably, throughout life, there will be people in our environment from various backgrounds and those who do not share our values and aims in life. We should respect all individuals regardless of their background, but ensure that we are in the company of those who will help us stay on the straight path and not divert us away from the path of Allah.

Respect everyone at home and at work. Deal with everyone kindly and justly. Allah has created us all with different personalities, qualities and character traits and therefore there may be times when we do not share the same opinions with our fellow sisters and brothers. Yet, Allah is All-Merciful and if we maintain good relationships with our family and friends, adhering to the principles of Islam we can ensure that we are on the right track to a rewarding afterlife.
Listen to people attentively. Pay attention when someone is speaking to you and make sure you gather the full extent of their message. Give sincere advice that will benefit them, but do not rush to do so in an overbearing manner. Abu Hurayra said,

“When he (the Prophet(pbuh)) faced someone, he faced him completely. When he turned away, he turned away completely. I have never seen anyone like him and I will never see anyone like them.” [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]

Give gifts frequently. You don’t need a reason to exchange presents. Surprise your friends and loved ones by doing something nice every so often!  Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet(pbuh) said,

“Give gifts and you will love one another.” [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]

Keep in touch with friends and relatives by visiting or calling to inquire about their well-being. Be there for them, at least by way of moral support during times of hardship. Accept their invitations and invite them in return. Abu Dharr reported Allah’s Messenger(pbuh) as saying:

“Abu Dharr, when you prepare the broth, add water to that and give that (as a present) to your neighbor”. [Sahih Muslim]

Visit them when they are sick and supplicate for them. Thauban, the freed slave of Allah’s Messenger(pbuh), reported that Allah’s Messenger(pbuh) said:

“He who visits the sick continues to remain in the fruit garden of Paradise until he returns”. [Sahih Muslim]

As the saying goes, it is better to be alone than to fall into bad company. So if you are unable to find good companionship, keep yourself from falling under negative influences by engaging in other productive activities by yourself

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